Balance (The Divine Book One) - By M.R. Forbes

Chapter 1

There was something about the way she moved; the feline grace of her body, the softness of her steps. The way her arms swayed languidly back and forth as she sauntered past me. She had black hair that fell to her hips in a single silken flow, blue eyes, olive skin, a pair of tights, a fitted red sweater, and a something extra that put her at the top of the 'out-of-your-league' Christmas wish list. What’s more, she was in a Museum! By herself! Yeah, I stared. No, she didn't notice.

It was my second week on the job at the Museum of Natural History, my first job post-incarceration. It was a long story, but the short simple version had to do with being a too-social computer geek and other people’s credit cards. I had been lucky to get such cake work. Normally the Museum didn't hire ex-cons, but they’d imported a special 'first time ever outside the Vatican, limited time only!' exhibit of ancient Catholic relics, prompting them to beef up staff. The nature of my crime hadn’t been violent or physical in any way, shape, or form, so they were willing to look past it. My job was simple, stand around and make sure nobody even tried to breathe funny on the artifacts.

Today, I was guarding cups. Excuse me, chalices. One in particular, a simple wooden one that sat at the end of the exhibit hall on a special pedestal surrounded by a rope, ten feet of space, tamper-proof, bullet-proof glass, and surveilled by every type of technology you could imagine. They said it was the cup Jesus drank out of at the Last Supper, the Holy Grail. It looked like it had come from 'The Last Crusade'. Lucas hadn't been off by much.

So far, the job had been as boring as I had assumed it would be. Every day from nine to twelve and one to close I would stand at the entrance to the exhibit room, watch the people go in and out, and occasionally wander up and down the aisles to make sure nobody got fingerprints on the glass enclosures. My greatest adversaries in this new career were children. They liked to touch things.

A particularly ambitious offender caught the corner of my eye, and I was forced to stop staring at the girl, who was approaching the wooden chalice at the end of the room. She seemed really interested in it. Very sexy.

Annoyed by the interruption to my creepy stalking, I walked over to where the little boy was standing, his hands and face pressed up against the glass. I peeked down at the label, Diamond Chalice, 771 A.D. There was more, but I didn't need to read it, I already had over a hundred times. It was a fancy piece of work that had been gifted to the Pope by Charlemagne. It tended to be a favorite with women, and even more so with kids. My guess was that the 'ooh shiny' part of his underdeveloped mind had taken over.

"Excuse me young sir," I said, kneeling down to get my face at a level with his. "The rules clearly state there will be no touching of the glass."

He looked at me, and I pointed my finger over at the 'DO NOT TOUCH’ sign. He laughed and ran off to find his mother, who had moved on with little concern for the location of her brood. I watched him go, skirting through the line of adults and latching onto her hand. She looked down at him, and he pointed back to where I was still crouching. She gave me a Medusa look and yanked the little tattletale forward. What was with parents these days anyway? God forbid their kids actually follow the rules. Wait... did I just say that?

I was contemplating the human aging process and that weird phenomenon that occurs when we somehow begin to turn into our parents, when a collective murmur caught my attention. I stood and looked around for the source. Damn!

The cutie with the black hair was inside the rope line! Not really that impressive I know, but this was a major infraction in the Museum Guard handbook. At least it would give me an excuse to talk to her. I began pushing my way through the gathering crowd, who were complaining of course that she was obstructing their view.

"Excuse me, miss," I said to her back.

She had reached the tamper-proof, bulletproof glass, and was standing there in a very thoughtful